Building Character: Red and the Transistor; Transistor

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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This article has some very major spoilers.

Welcome back to Building Character, your insider guide to all things characterish. This month is February, today is Valentines day, and by happy coincidence I happen to have a couple to talk about! They’re not exactly a typical couple, but dammit they’ve been through a lot together, and I want to talk about them. If the title somehow hasn’t clued you in, we’ll be talking about Red and her special sword called the Transistor from the game Transistor, by Supergiant Games.

Transistor

And there’s how we’re all introduced to our happy couple. The woman is Red, a singer of some renown. The man is…dead. We don’t know anything about these two at first. The only thing we can piece together (aside from the fact that clearly something bad has happened) is that these two…this woman and the man in the sword knew each other somehow. It doesn’t take long to figure that out. Since Red can’t speak(she can hum and grunt, but no words), most of what we figure out comes from what the Transistor says, and how he says it. You can tell that he’s trying to stay…not happy, but positive about the situation, but you can hear the pain of the situation in his voice.

Red isn’t entirely non-communicative, though. Throughout the game there are OVC Terminals, basically public access newsfeed terminals where you get some lore. These terminals are the only place during the game where Red can actually communicate with the Transistor. These are the moments when you finally see just how much these two mean to each other.

Red: None of this is coming through anymore is it…

Transistor: I think you’re right.

R: Though you still hear me don’t you….

T:Of course. Of course I do.

R: You’re all I have.

T: Red…

R: There has to be (Red deletes this comment, then starts over)

There has to be a way to get you out of there.

T: We’ll figure it out when we get there.

R: Yes we will.

This is…not exactly a happy conversation, but it does show that these two care for each other, and have cared for each other for some time. There’s a bit more revealed through cutscenes, including, most importantly, just how they came to their current situation. Red was attacked by the Camerata. They tried to use the Transistor to kill her, but before it connected her mysterious lover (boyfriend? Husband? The game never actually says) jumped in and took the hit. The attack is what took Reds voice, and is what caused the nameless man to be trapped in the sword.

Transistor_Cloudbank_1411x807

So basically, we’re placed in medias res at the worst part of these two peoples lives. But, despite all of that, they’re still supportive of each other, still desperate to see the other one safe. Transistor wants Red to skip town so, even though he’s trapped in the sword, at least she’ll be safe. Instead of doing that, she takes him back in to the city to track down what happened, hoping to save him. Without the game outright saying it, that series of events (which happen early in the game) speak volumes about the type of relationship they had before this all happened. There are other hints as well; you can see a ring on Reds finger in the above picture, is that just some random jewellery? Or maybe a wedding ring?

Ultimately though, Red is a performer, not a fighter. It’s because of her care for him, her desire to see him again that she’s going through all of this. She hopes through all the game that she can fix this, save him. This…is not possible. This is when things get drastic. Red has beaten all of the challenges thrown at her. The people responsible for the situation have been punished and the world is literally hers to create. She could do anything she wants, but all she wants is to be with him. What’s the point of creating a world for yourself if you can’t share it with the person you love? So she does something extreme. He tries to stop her, but she’s made up her mind.

End scene

She joins him in the Transistor.

 

(Watch until the end, it’s actually a happy ending)

Happy Valentines day.

 

About Matt Welwood

Matt does a lot of stuff, and now also does stuff on oprainfall. Frequent player of Hearthstone, and many other games besides. Follow him on Twitter (@ghostlyweevil) for infrequent updates about things that he thinks about.




  • RhinoBurger

    I would love an article that works as a “ELI5: What the hell happened in Transistor?” I’ve played that game three times and still don’t really know what happened to that world.

    • Matt W

      I’ve actually been thinking about doing another article about just that, but I’ll have to play through a few more times to get a grasp of it, and catch up on all the lore.